HBO’s 24/7 prefight series has set a high standard for boxing television primers.
One could easily dismiss this since HBO holds the key to the pay-per-view payday of the protagonists. They have almost unlimited access to the fighters, bringing their cameras and microphones into the training camps, the homes and families.
But it’s their production treatment that sets it apart. They find the angles that others seem to avoid or take for granted. They weave in insightful interviews with the fighters, the ring experts and even controversial figures that usually shun away from a microphone.
One excellent recent episode was when Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez reviewed their three previous fights. Pacquiao’s mentor Freddie Roach was also interviewed as well as Marquez’s trainer Nacho Beristain. Ringside analyst and interviewer Larry Merchant and Robert Hoyle, one of the judges of the third fight, shared their insights.
Aside from asking questions, the producers showed snippets of the fights to the interviewees. Gone are the days of cumbersome video playback equipment as the fight highlights were viewed by the respondents on a tablet computer. This allowed them to recall the moments, tactics and even errors of the previous battles.
Reviewing all the three fights on 24/7 with the advantage of hindsight and inside information, one may form new opinions on the decisions of the three fights. New views will not change the results but this does not inhibit sports fans from understanding or rejecting the judges’ perspectives.
Our nationalism has sometimes led us to believe that Pacquiao never lost any of the battles. However, many Filipino armchair experts who even go to the extent of scoring each round on their own also believe that Pacquiao lost the second and the third fights.
Those who feel that Pacquiao lost one or two of the fights are not unpatriotic but simply attempt to view the fights with different, if not objective eyes.
Here’s my take after going through the three battles on 24/7: I give the first fight to Marquez simply because of the comeback he made after the three knockdowns. The second fight went to Pacquiao with a slight edge because of the knockdown he scored in the third round. The third battle which I first saw as a slight win by Marquez could have very well been a draw.
The program revealed that Marquez inexplicably held back in the last round of the third because he probably thought he was ahead. Beristain begged Marquez in the corner to explode or else the judges would rob him again. Hoyle believed Marquez failed to win the fight in the last three minutes and gave the last round to Pacquiao. His final count was a 114-114 standoff. Pacquiao went on to win via majority decision.
I don’t expect everybody to agree with me but isn’t that the thrill of sports opinions? Looking back at the three fights can provide new insights but will not alter the decisions that were made right after the battles and in real time. There was no 24/7 to dissect the fight and the judges had to stand by what they saw atop the ring.
HBO’s 24/7 said that after 36 rounds, there is still no clear winner between Pacquiao and Marquez. Now, we understand why there is a fourth and probably final showdown.
Maybe by then, 24/7 will have a more conclusive ending.